UK school where ISIS fanatic tried to recruit ‘army of children’ for terror attacks given official warning

UK school where ISIS fanatic tried to recruit ‘army of children’ for terror attacks given official warning
UK school where ISIS fanatic tried to recruit ‘army of children’ for terror attacks given official warning

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - A UK school where an ISIS fanatic tried to recruit an ‘army of children’ to commit terror attacks has been given an official warning by the British regulator.

The charity watchdog has issued the warning to the Lantern of Knowledge Educational Trust, which runs the independent fee-paying Islamic private school Lantern of Knowledge Boys Secondary School in in Waltham Forrest, north-east London.

Former Islamic studies teacher Umar Haque was jailed for life in 2018 after using his position to show ISIS propaganda videos, including beheadings, to children as young as 11 as he tried to recruit them into a mini militia.

Haque, 27, who also taught at a mosque in east London, staged training exercises during Islamic studies classes to prepare children for ISIS-inspired attacks in London.

After a long investigation the UK's Charity Commission has issued an official warning to the trust which operates the school and found the trustees guilty of misconduct for allowing the children to be exposed to Haque's radicalisation.

"Umar Haque’s action at this charity was appalling," said Tim Hopkins, Assistant Director for Investigations and Inquiries at the Commission.

"It is completely unacceptable for any charity to be associated with terrorism and we are concerned by the corrosive effect this might have on public confidence in this and other charities.

"Charities should lead the way in taking public expectations seriously and be distinct from other types of organisations in their attitude and behaviour, their motivations and methods. We expect the trustees of this charity to learn from the failings set out in our report, and to comply with the required actions to strengthen the charity’s administration. We will closely monitor the trustees’ compliance with these actions."

Some 35 children have required long-term supervision as a result of the attempted indoctrination by Haque at the school and mosque, according to police. It emerged that he was working daily with children aged five to 15.

The grooming only came to light after Haque’s passport was revoked after he attempted to board a flight to Istanbul en route to Syria, with the apparent aim of joining ISIS.

After his failure to fly to Syria, he turned his attentions to targets in the UK, including Heathrow Airport and a plot to mow down pedestrians outside the UK parliament.

"The Commission finds that Haque “grossly abused” the position of trust he held at the charity and exploited an opportunity to show children in the charity’s care the video," it said.

"The report notes that the public rightly expect charities, particularly those working with children and young people, to be safe places, free from abuse or harm, and that, in light of Haque’s actions, this was not the case within this charity. The Commission concluded that there was therefore misconduct and/or mismanagement in the charity’s administration.

"To address the mismanagement and/or misconduct set out in the inquiry’s report, the Commission issued the trustees with an Official Warning and has also directed the trustees, by order, to take specified actions. These include complying with the independent school standards, and undertaking a review of its governing document."

The school was rated as inadequate by government inspectors last year after discovering a book in its library that advocated death for anyone who committed adultery.

In a statement the Trust said the school is against "radicalisation".

"The Trustees of Lantern of Knowledge Educational Trust denounce any attempts at radicalisation," it said.

"Whilst the actions of Haque at our school were limited, Trustees undertook a deep review of all our safeguarding and operational processes. Safeguarding is of paramount importance to the Trustees and shall remain so, without compromise.

Trustees have ensured significant investment has been put into the charity’s school to ensure safeguarding remains robust and excellent educational outcomes for pupils are achieved."

Updated: September 17, 2020 04:49 PM

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